Sunday, February 10, 2008

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread, and don't get too dependent on that Spellchecker.

As certifiable language geeks, we like to collect Freudian typos, grammatical faux pas, and other examples of anguished English. We feel that these horrid examples perform a service beside mere entertainment by providing memorable examples of common errors and the necessity of good editing. D often uses them in the course of his work to drive home grammatical and semantic points; I keep such internet wisdom as "An Owed to the Spell Checker" and "How to Write More Better" posted in sight of the computer keyboard for the edification of all users. (The jury is still out on the effectiveness of this practice.)

Recently, an example of particularly embarassing dimensions came our way in a message from an institution of higher learning. The message, from which we have excised and paraphrased the following excerpt (both for confidentiality reasons and to protect the guilty) dealt with behavior at sporting events:

It is [inappropriate] to shout epitaphs against the other team.

We envision the student body in chorus:

Here I lie! Food for worms! (B. Franklin)
or,
I would rather be living in Philadelphia! RAH! (W. C. Fields)

Spellcheck has its limitations; it will not save your neck when you use the wrong word (leastwise, not if you spell it correctly!) It is vitally important when writing in an official capacity to reread (and have others review) your work. And for goodness' sake, if something looks or sounds funny, LOOK IT UP! Chances are there's a reason!

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2 Comments:

Blogger mrsdarwin said...

"anguished English" -- brilliant!

1:05 PM  
Blogger CMinor said...

Thanx, but I can't claim authorship of that idiom. Unfortunately, I also can't recall where I came across it.

We call it "oldtimer's syndrome."

9:48 AM  

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